Ex-attorney William Conour and his defense lawyers officially parted ways on Thursday. A federal judge afterward granted Conour’s request that he receive $15,000 from a $100,000 trust fund set up for compensating client victims he is accused of defrauding.
The ruling came after testimony that the trust fund established from Conour’s assets after he was charged in April with a single count of wire fraud had been depleted by almost half since its establishment.
U.S. District Chief Judge Richard L. Young approved Conour’s pro se request for money from the trust. Conour said he needs $15,000 every two months to pay bills and hire a defense attorney. “I’m just trying to support my family, your honor,” Conour said.
The government alleges Conour stole $4.5 million from clients’ personal injury settlement trust funds in a Ponzi scheme.
The disbursement from the trust came near the close of a brief hearing in which Conour’s attorney, Richard Kammen, told Young he and Dorie Maryan sought to withdraw as Conour’s attorney. “The relationship between he and I is irreparably broken,” Kammen said. “I think it’s appropriate that I withdraw.”
Conour told the judge, “I don’t object to it, and I consent to it.”
Kammen and Maryan began representing Conour in May after his initial defender, Jim Voyles, withdrew. Early on, the $100,000 trust was established with the court and was to collect and disburse assets to compensate victims and pay other claims as approved by the court.
Kammen told the court that since he began representing Conour, the fund’s balance had shrunk to $54,000 from various disbursements.
Conour said he was surprised by how low the balance was and that he had not received an accounting of the trust.
Young asked Conour about his remaining assets. He said he had some artwork for sale with a dealer in Carmel and was trying to sell a home appraised at $2.5 million, but which has a lien of more than $1 million.
He said he also was owed legal fees of nearly $2 million, but collecting would be a problem, especially since Conour resigned from the bar in July. “We might be able to get half that,” he said.
Marcia Anderson fumed during the proceeding. Injured in a car crash, she reached settlements through Conour’s representation of $175,000, but said she had received only $10,000 in the form of a loan.
“I have not seen any of it since,” Anderson said after the hearing. “I will probably never see a penny of it, either.” She said she will keep coming to court until she sees Conour led away in handcuffs.
Young set a progress hearing for Oct. 17, at which time he said Conour’s scheduled trial date of Oct. 22 likely would be reset.
Conour asked Young whether he should file another motion to request funds from the trust if he can’t secure counsel before the Oct. 17 hearing. Young told him that would be appropriate.